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March 19, 2013 | last updated March 19, 2013 10:55 am

CT pushes regional renewable purchasing pact

In overhauling requirements for electricity providers to source a certain portion of their power from renewable sources, Connecticut officials are seeking to form a new regional buying partnership that would include Maine.

Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has proposed the partnership in the interest of gaining bargaining power on renewable energy prices and providing a critical mass it says can support developers looking to pursue larger renewable projects.

The DEEP proposal also seeks to phase out the inclusion of biomass and landfill gas plants from the renewable portfolio standard in favor of solar, wind and tidal power generation.

DEEP's proposal says the current RPS doesn't meet state goals, as 89% of Connecticut's renewable electricity is generated outside the state, and 87% comes from technological sources that are less than clean – namely biomass plants in Maine and New Hampshire and landfill gas in New York.

"We want to tighten those standards for those legacy projects that we really didn't have in mind when we set up this renewable portfolio standard," DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty said.

Revamping the RPS will be controversial in this legislative session, especially since it involves a significant shift in how renewable technologies receive funding. Although a significant portion of the RPS will go toward a previously ineligible technology – large-scale hydro – Duff, Esty and Reed are selling the change as making more incentive money available for all in-state renewable technologies at the expense of the out-of-state, less clean technologies.

"This package represents a big step forward for renewables," Esty said.

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